Algorithms are replacing media moguls: The Impact of Social Media on Communication in the Society and Law

Available in Russian

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Author: Andrey Rumyantsev

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2016-6-49-69

Keywords: algorithm; elections; Facebook; mass communication; pluralism; post-truth; social media


The US presidential election campaign of 2016 was an asymmetrical one: most established mass media supported Hillary Clinton. As a compensating measure, Trump’s team used extensively social media as well as other Internet platforms and resources. After losing the election, supporters of the Democratic Party provided two explanations of the success of the Republicans. First, social media disseminated fake news in favor of Trump. Second, Facebook’s news feed algorithm stimulated the segregation of voters with different political views (filter bubble). These claims have been analyzed critically and in detail. It has been presented that both effects are not new and had been existing long before social media emerged. The latter only reproduce behavior patterns that have been developed by causes not related to them. The real shift is that established mass media are losing their monopoly for providing channels of communication in the society; this function is more and more performed by companies operating Internet communication platforms. As a result of their increasing role, Internet companies get under the pressure of political actors and other interest groups. Due to their influence on the political process, social media cannot avoid being regulated under the constitutional law. Such a regulation can be successfully prepared only by using instruments provided by other research areas, especially by sociology of mass communication.

About the author: Andrey Rumyantsev – Dr. jur. (Regensburg), Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Comparative constitutional review”, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Rumyantsev A. (2016) Algoritmy prikhodyat na smenu mediamagnatam: Kak setevye platformy vliyayut na kommunikatsiyu v obshchestve i pravo [Algorithms are replacing media moguls: The Impact of Social Media on Communication in the Society and Law]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 49–69. (In Russian).


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